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Evidence Summary

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eHealth technologies for weight loss have similar benefits as standard programs

Hutchesson MJ, Rollo ME, Krukowski R, et al. eHealth interventions for the prevention and treatment of overweight and obesity in adults: A systematic review with meta-analysis Obesity Reviews. 2015;16:376-392.

Review question

Do eHealth weight management programs prevent and treat overweight and obesity in adults?

Background

Obesity is a major health issue worldwide with more than half a billion adults worldwide estimated as having obesity. With growing numbers of people using communication technologies such as the Internet and electronic devices to access and track health-related information, integrating these “eHealth technologies” into weight management programs may help prevent and treat overweight and obesity as well as help maintain weight loss in adults.

How the review was done

The researchers did a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies published between 2001 and 2014. They found 84 randomized controlled trials including over 24,000 adult participants (average age under 65 years).  All included studies focused on some type of weight management such as preventing weight gain, maintaining weight loss, or treating overweight and/or obesity.

Participants used eHealth technologies such as the Internet/websites, text messages, monitoring devices or mobile applications. Control groups participated in other types of weight management programs, a different eHealth program, or no program at all.  Participants’ weight was measured before and after the program.

What the researchers found

In weight loss programs, participants using eHealth technologies were more likely to lose weight than participants who completed a minimal program or no program at all. However, eHealth components were not any more beneficial than other types of weight loss programs.

There was not enough evidence to make conclusions about weight maintenance: some studies found that eHealth technology helped participants avoid re-gaining weight, but others did not show a significant difference.

Conclusion

eHealth weight loss technologies help people lose weight, but do not result in greater weight loss than standard weight loss programs.  




Glossary

Control group
A group that receives either no treatment or a standard treatment.
Meta-analysis
Advanced statistical methods contrasting and combining results from different studies.
Randomized controlled trials
Studies where people are assigned to one of the treatments purely by chance.
Systematic review
A comprehensive evaluation of the available research evidence on a particular topic.

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